During my time here I have been truly captivated by all the different sports in Ireland. Coming from Chicago, IL I was mostly familiar with baseball, football, basketball (soccer – or ‘football’ – isn’t that big in the Windy City!)
One sport I could relate to, however, is rugby. I played rugby my final two years in High school, which happened to be the first two years of the program’s existence. Something I have found over here is that rugby is huge, and it is WAY more exciting than over in the states. I urge everyone to try and see Ireland play at Aviva at some point. I have made it to see Ireland play the likes of New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa – and it’s a very unique sports experience. The atmosphere is completely different to what you may have at a ballpark of football field. For example, it is so quiet during a kicking attempt that you could probably hear a pencil drop from across the stadium (I’m pretty sure I heard someone’s ringtone sounding across the pitch against New Zealand!)
It’s been nice having some level of familiarity whilst watching a sport with my Irish friends, but rugby isn’t the only sport I’ve experienced here. I have found Hurling to be really interesting and have gone off to the pub for a couple All-Ireland Hurling matches (it is really something else!) At first glance it looks like the absolute oddest game, I would call it a mix of Lacrosse, Baseball, and Hockey. The guys are running around with flat wooden clubs, hitting the little “baseball” to one another and catching the thing in their bare hands! It’s crazy, I would never attempt to catch a ball coming in that fast, especially with the opponents hacking at it with the sticks!
Besides Hurling, there is also Gaelic Football. Gaelic looks a lot like Rugby, however you must ‘solo’ the ball to yourself every three steps. There are lots of opportunities to watch sport in Ireland and Trinity’s CAC (Central Athletics Club) offers student to try their hand at over 50 sports, so there really is something for everybody!
Charlie Stein is a Student Ambassador in the Global Room from Chicago